Colorado “disappointed” with arbitration on Republican River

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A federal arbitrator ruled that Kansas could reasonably reject Colorado’s compact compliance pipeline plan for the Republican River, even though a third state involved in the Republican River compact approved it.

Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas all receive water from the river, and Colorado’s plan has been in arbitration for most of this year.

Attorney General John Suthers said he is disappointed by the judge’s decision.

“It’s important to note that the arbitrator recognized Colorado’s fundamental right to proceed with a pipeline to assist in compact compliance, that the proposal provides a reasonable and necessary approach by Colorado, and that Kansas does not have an unfettered ability to block the project,” he said.

Most of the arbitrator’s decision focused on details that should have been included in Colorado’s proposal, he said.

“Colorado will continue to work to assure that we comply with the Republican River Compact while protecting the livelihoods and jobs of those living in the basin,” he said. “I remain optimistic that Colorado and Kansas can reach an agreement on this pipeline to assure this happens.”

The Republican River begins on the eastern plains of Colorado, flowing into Nebraska and then Kansas, where it flows into the Kansas River. The waters are divided among the three states by the 1942 Republican River Compact.

In 1998, Kansas filed a lawsuit against Nebraska and named Colorado as a party to the compact. The states settled that suit in 2002. One part of the 2002 settlement required the states to submit disputes to a mandatory non-binding dispute resolution process, including non-binding arbitration.